The Crusader Newspaper Group

‘Almost Christmas’ reminds viewers of the many family holiday moods

By Elaine Hegwood Bowen, M.S.J., Chicago Crusader

“Almost Christmas” is a cute movie about the week leading up to Christmas, packed with much drama and led by an ensemble cast that director David Talbert has assembled for this film, which is produced by Will Packer Productions and Perfect World Pictures. I can imagine some of the scenarios in this movie actually being in a David Talbert stage play, with leads from veteran actor Danny Glover playing the patriarch Walter Meyer and Oscar winner Monique playing Aunt May.

There is tension as the siblings and their respective family members come together, after the mother has passed away. The film shows a great life that Glover and the mother had made, but now he’s all alone in Birmingham, Alabama, and is anticipating seeing his children come from miles away to visit for Christmas. He is fixated on making the mother’s famous sweet potato pie, but he’s having such a hard time. He has made his living as a mechanic, and now owns a few car repair shops.

VETERAN ACTOR DANNY GLOVER greets Monique, when she arrives at his home to spend a few days before the much anticipated Christmas dinner.
VETERAN ACTOR DANNY GLOVER greets Monique, when she arrives at his home to spend a few days before the much anticipated Christmas dinner.

He has one daughter who is studying to be an attorney, some kind of way; another daughter who is a successful dentist and a son who is a politician. Jessie Usher plays Evan, another son, who is a college football player with a fresh injury and who is slowly becoming addicted to pain killers. Monique is a formidable figure in the family, as she plays the aunt who seems to be able to keep everyone in check with her brash mouth and multitude of wigs. Gabrielle Union plays Rachel, the stuck up sister who is managing a teen daughter along with a job and college studies. Kimberly Elise plays Cheryl, who has it together as a dentist, but she and Union can’t seem to get along. Romany Malco plays the other son Christian, who is married to Nicole Ari Parker, but can’t seem to pull away from his political aspirations long enough to enjoy the holiday.

Comedian J.B. Smoove plays Uncle Lonnie and adds to the already overflowing Christmas basket of comic relief. Rounding out the stellar cast is Omar Epps, a neighbor who once had dated Union in high school, but stood her up for prom—a disappointment that Union has been holding onto for nearly 20 years. A nice, sweet cameo by singer Gladys Knight adds more spice to the excitement.

This movie is spot on because most families, Black or white, can relate to the situations that Talbert presents. It reminds me a bit of the movie “Soul Food,” because you know right from the beginning that not all is going to go well, with so many moods and attitudes trying to come together for the annual holiday feast. Each day brings more tension and acrimony between some of the family members, especially between Union and Elise. The other usual themes of infidelity, sibling rivalry and “fronting,” among others, are all covered in “Almost Christmas.” And as much as Monique may be the sassy aunt with the filthy language, she also is the great equalizer that can quell any impending arguments.

In the end, the sweet potato pie is baked to perfection, Glover is at peace and, as well, the Meyer family comes together as a tribute to the strength and love that families all over seek to exhibit during the holidays. “Almost Christmas” is playing in theaters everywhere.

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